In the article A Brief History of China’s One Child Policy, the Chinese government calls to implement a policy that limits families to having only one child. In this article, possible rulings and solutions to regulating population in China are discussed. A regulatory control approach is favoured in the article, however in this blog post, the opinions of both financial incentive and regulatory control methods will be discussed and analyzed in order to deduce the best opinion.
The Chinese Government is proposing the policy that would limit every family to having only one child. The author, Laura Fitzpatrick , has cited many varied reasons for the supporting of this. First, they argue the population growth was taking a toll on the nation's food supply. For example, the decreased per capita food availability in China, despite phenomenal increase in their production has caused poverty in many parts of China, which has leads to malnutrition, hunger, and disease. (Gale 2002) The author’s concern was in considering China’s population, which is over 1.3 billion people, demand for food will overpower supply of food. This will result in a higher poverty rate in China, but also with so many inhabitants living in a space, the country will become more and more crowded. This high population will lead to an increased pressure on resources like land, water, natural forests, and animals, leading to many far-reaching effects. For example: fragmentation of land below the economic level, the shortage of drinking and irrigation water, deforestation to increase the area under agriculture, and pollution of water, land, food materials.
In the case of population regulation to lessen its negative effects stated above, an outright ban is not the only solution. Financial incentives as exemplified by having to pay the Chinese government a set fee, if you are to have more then one child is a less extreme alternative that is practical and sustainable. By setting a fee per every child a family has over one child, the government does not prohibit families to have one child only, however because there is a cost to have over one child, there is an incentive to have less children. The first argument against the ban and in favour of a feeing system is one regarding gender equality and health of women.
The author of this article strongly claims,
“With boys being viewed as culturally preferable, the practice of female infanticide — which had been common before 1949 but was largely eradicated by the 1950s — was resumed in some areas shortly after the one-child policy went into effect. The resulting gender imbalance widened after 1986, when ultrasound tests and abortions became easier to come by. “ (Fitzpatrick, 2009)
Next, the One Child Policy negatively affects farmers and families who depend on their children to provide for them. Although the One Child Policy does allow for some lenience in the matter, allowing families to choose how many kids they see fit to have, so that they are able to provide for themselves is a fair practice.
In my opinion, the option of an economic incentive is significantly more practical option. Since the environmental, monetary, and health benefits would be much higher if a feeing system were to be implemented, it seems like a much better alternative. If this system were put into place, changes would not be immediate, but they would be very sustainable and long-term. Most people are not willing to put forth money unless they need it. The people who would pay the fee in order to have larger families would be families that utilise these “extra” members for their survival. By taking off the pressure of only being able to have one child, perhaps women would gain some equal rights in China’s society and the practice of illegal abortions and poor health care to women and children would improve.
In conclusion, when it comes to overpopulation, extremism might not always be the way to go. Whether environmentalists like it or not the world is going to be become more and more populated with or without the One Child Policy. Convincing people, especially those who are in need or larger families, and women, who are continually demeaned in society, that this policy is “the way to go” will be near-impossible at this point with out putting people’s health and lives at risk. It is for these reasons that I believe; in this case, a financial incentive is more practical and sustainable than regulatory control.